December 29, 2009

Look up!

Posted in Festivals, Netjeru, The Wild Sky at 2:14 pm by

This morning, before getting in the car to go to work, I paused outside the garage to look up. Above the branches of the pine tree across the road, silhouetted against the gradually lightening sky — a pale swath of delicate cloud veil and a single star, golden and startlingly bright.

Later, during the drive, I looked up again, out the car’s window. The dawn sky was filled with clouds in serried ranks, as if marching from the east, advancing across the land. The Gods are in procession, I thought, on this day of festival, as the Divine Cow raises up the sun.

Today is a holy day, the day that Ra establishes His place in the heavens. Look up!

Dua Nut, Mother of the Gods! Dua Ra in Your rising! Nekhtet!

October 22, 2009

What sets me flying

Posted in The Wild Sky, Thoughts and Reflections at 12:21 pm by

Last evening, driving home, was an evening of layers: blue sky high above great sheets of sun-and-shadow clouds; the late golden light cutting across the air to ignite the treetops, turning them into brassy many-colored fires, or striking lower, between them, to burn on houses, grass, cars; the transitioning leaves in all their autumn hues overlapping like feathers; and, most keen of all, my own awareness of existing on multiple levels, of making the everyday drive, part of the New Jersey routine of commuters, and at the same time being with the sky, and also every place in between, breathing between earth and heaven, like Shu.

This morning I got up early to offer to Heru-hekenu on His feast day: flame, cool water, a little Florida water for scent, and teriyaki chicken. His message to me in return was very simple: Fly.

What does it mean to fly? I won’t ever suddenly sprout wings, except perhaps in dreams. But even while my feet are on the ground (or the gas pedal), I can still soar.

What sets your spirit flying?

Dua Heru-hekenu! Nekhtet!

October 19, 2009

Walking the valley

Posted in Home and Temple, On Writing, The Wild Sky, Thoughts and Reflections at 4:43 pm by

On Sunday I went for a walk down the road and around the school, the first time in a long while that I’ve taken that particular walk. I often go for similar walks on my lunch break at work, around the university campus, down by the lake or along the canal, but they don’t have the sense of exhilaration that yesterday’s walk did. Was it something in the wind? Or was it because it was that wind, gusting down the length of the valley, that sky arching overhead, from hillside to hillside, that roll of the land and the rivers, the scattering of orange leaves like a drift of fire on the hill leading up to the cow farm’s main house, the pines along the athletic fields swaying against the ragged and illuminated clouds? Because it felt like coming home?

I’d never even realized that I’d been away, and yet, in some sense, I was. And is it a coincidence that I also spent much of the day writing, something that I’d been too busy or too anxious to do for a long time? There are a lot of distractions, a lot of ways to be absent to one’s self and one’s life.

O Netjer, may I be truly present. May I live. May I live.

September 29, 2009

Intention as prayer

Posted in The Wild Sky, Thoughts and Reflections at 7:39 am by

Yesterday afternoon was very dark, and then on the drive home from work it rained, but at the end there was a strange sunset light, the sky like champagne, pale gold where the clouds broke. Like that, clarity emerges, a glimpse, a snatch of music, a fleeting instant that clutches at the heart.

What is my intention? Do my actions support it or undercut it? What have I forgotten in the busyness of the day? The light breaks through, and suddenly I feel it again, that call, that promise of delight, almost near enough to touch. And I pledge myself once more.

Last night I lit candles and poured water for my Beloveds, for my Akhu, and for Djehuty, the God of the Year, even though I was tired and resistant — “I have too much to do” — but then, what more important than this? Right now, Djehuty affirms, I need two things that intertwine with each other: discipline, to settle myself to my work; and coolness, to soothe my agitation so that I can find focus and calm. It comes back to holding that energy within myself, containing it so that I can make good and appropriate use of it. So this week I work on loosening the grip of my two addictions, both of which make me restless and “hot”: caffeine and Internet surfing. And although I’ve addressed this issue before, and “forgotten” with passage of time, I haven’t given up on it, and that counts for something — a reaching for the light, however fumbling; a link in the chain of effort; a repeated opening to the brilliance of the sun.

I dreamed once of a yellow bird that was also a prayer, released to skim upward toward the sky, and of a quiet man who told me, “Keep sending it up.”

Again and again, a return to the center, to intention, to the still point of meditation, to the heart’s sweet, piercing longing.

Keep sending it up.

September 23, 2009

Opet, Year 17

Posted in Festivals, The Wild Sky, Thoughts and Reflections at 12:34 pm by

Out of the overcast day, a moment of sun — brilliant white clouds pull together like slow Symplegades, thin swirls of cirrus curling between them like the spray of waves against stone. They kiss, and gray shadow falls again.

We’re in the midst of Opet, the festival of the Theban triad, celebrating the union of Amun and Mut, the bright promise of Their son Khonsu, and the renewal of the sacred kingship. Where the Lord of Thrones meets the Lady of the Crowns, where the hidden meets the manifest, where the Divine and the human worlds touch, we are in neheh, cyclical time, the spiral of becoming. The play of light waxes and wanes. But there will always be healing.

Dua Amun! Dua Mut! Dua Khonsu! Nekhtet!

September 17, 2009

What I want

Posted in Stalking Beauty, The Wild Sky, Thoughts and Reflections at 9:37 pm by

Wep Ronpet is well past, and the season of the Inundation is underway. The golden rain trees around the fountain plaza are starting to turn, shedding their first delicate yellow leaves, living up to their name. This morning was wrapped in gray, a promise of drizzle, a heavy overcast that intensified even the smallest spots of color: blue chicory by the roadside, a fiery clump of tickseed sunflowers, one prematurely red maple branch. The rumor of autumn is in the wind, breath of coolness and change, ready to sweep everything clean before it, opening the way for all possibility.

Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time caught up in a looping pattern of anxiety, one of the most frequent manifestations of which has been a circular inner monologue: “I want something. What do I want? I don’t know what I want! But I want something….” This week I was finally able to put on the brakes by means of a very simple, basic affirmation technique: taking the negative statement at the heart of that distress, turning it into a positive one, and repeating it with intention, like a mantra.

I know what I want.
I know what I want.
I know what I want.

And the answers came.

I want to be strong.
What does it mean to be strong?
To be whole and sound. To be effective in the world.

I want to move through life with grace.
What does it mean to be graceful?
To be centered in myself. To be conscious, as I move, of my relationship with all that’s around me.

I want to live in beauty.
What does it mean to live in beauty?
To be aware. To discover richness and sweetness with all of my senses, every day, everywhere. To choose always the beautiful and the true.

I want to create beauty.
What does it mean to create beauty?
To use all my talents to write, to sing, to make things that are lovely and satisfying. To “share your lapis,” as I was told once in an inner journey. To make the world a little brighter, to make life a little easier and happier for everyone around me. To reflect all of the beauty that I see and experience and imagine.

Everything else? All the passing flickers of interests, obsessions, the one-true-goals, the seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-times? It’s all window dressing, all veils and curtains, all outward forms that come and go. The essence is what’s deep and true. So if I can stay with and follow that essence, and worry less about the particulars, then I’ll find my way out of that endless loop at last.

— —

And then, having realized that, today I went out for a walk at lunchtime and sat for a while on a set of abandoned steps, watching the cloud-blown sky. And all at once the next key came to me: part of the urgency that lies behind my anxiety is this feeling I sometimes get of being filled with a tremendous energy and having no idea what to do with it. There’s a desperation to find something big and important and most of all right, the perfect thing that I’m “meant” to do, at which I can hurl all of this gathered tension and force. (Thus the almost frantic need to answer that question of “what do I want,” to find some kind — any kind — of direction and purpose.) And what the wind and my Mother told me is — that it’s all right to hold this energy. To contain it, as the bas jar contains the secret of its perfume. And to let it find its own expression when it’s needed, when I can see what it’s really good for — as not a single outpouring flood but a thousand subtle uses, the virtue of a thousand different resins and flowers.

Two hawks swept by overhead, flying against the wind, and the sun came out.

Dua Bast! Dua Heru-hekenu! Nekhtet!

July 31, 2009

Shadow and shining

Posted in Stalking Beauty, The Wild Sky at 3:26 pm by

Driving through the tail end of rain storms, the last couple of days — the road was silver, and the delicate veils of water thrown up by the passing cars, and the light-struck sky, and the trees were like shadows, half seen in the mist. The Kemetic year is ending in stress, but also in beauty.

The flood time is coming; may it wash away all sorrow; may we be renewed.

Dua Netjer! Nekhtet!

June 13, 2009

Amun of the clouds

Posted in Netjeru, Stalking Beauty, The Wild Sky, Thoughts and Reflections at 8:38 am by

Driving home from work last evening, I was looking at the cumulus clouds piling high in the western sky, and they made me think of Amun — not Amun as the clouds themselves, but as the invisible wind that sculpts them into forms of exquisite beauty, the same force that lifts the heart, that inspires us to create beauty of our own.

O beautiful of plumes — dua Amun!

February 13, 2009

Walking with the wind

Posted in Parks and Rivers, The Wild Sky at 8:50 am by

So the path was closed, but I went around the long way, through the maze of fenced-in small athletic fields, trying to figure out how to get to where I was trying to go. (I could have just gone the really long way, around the fields altogether, down through the woods and back along the bottom path, but I was curious.) I thought I was walled in for sure at one point, faced with a wire fence that there didn’t seem to be any way out of — and that would have been okay, since I found a good sitting stone there, at the foot of a silver beech tree, with a fine view of the water. But after a few minutes I went on through the trees and finally found a break in the fence where they’re in the midst of installing a new one (to be electrified eventually, but fortunately not yet). From there, I was able to follow the nature-walk path — open at the bottom end — up onto the hill, and spend a little time right where I wanted to be: at the top of the cutting, about thirty feet above the crossroad, looking out across the bridge and the lake, listening to the wind roar in the treetops and hiss in the rattling beech leaves and tall, sere grasses, and talking to my various gods. It was good.

And coming back, I was able to pinpoint exactly where the path closure is, so in the future I can get around it without quite so extensive a diversion. But still, it was a fun detour. There’s a lot to be said for going woods-romping on one’s lunch break. And the wind! Shake-you-to-the-heart wind, powerful and fierce, yet warm and vital and alive.

Wind lion roaring,
Great Shu, facing yesterday —
fangs bared, mane flaring.

February 12, 2009

Out of the tiger dawn

Posted in Creative Fire, Netjeru, The Wild Sky, Thoughts and Reflections at 10:37 am by

A wild morning — high wind; heavy clouds parting to show glimpses of the perfect clarity of the sky beyond; a delicate veil of mist across the hilltops lit up shimmering by the rising amber flame of the sun; and something in the quality of the light catching in last fall’s leaves, on the tawny grass and the bare-branched trees, so that the world took on an orange cast beneath the dark gray, sculptured sky. A tigerish morning, grrr.

The last few days have felt magical, numinous. I don’t know why. The season? The fact that I’m gearing up to work seriously on my Sau studies again? Hormones from my period? For whatever reason, everything seems possible — and then I fall back into one or more of my sludgy bad habits, until I just want to bite myself for stupidity. Zep Tepi — put down the bad, pick up the good, and start again. So here we go.

One of today’s festivals is the Procession of Nesert, flame goddess, Eye of Ra.It brings me back to the idea of fire, tigers, burning. Good old William Blake. A tiger day, or possibly a lynx day — lynx-fierce, lynx-secretive. Way back before I had really discovered Bast or begun studying Kemet, my personal pantheon included a goddess Who I knew only as the Lady of the Secret Inner Flame. I think now that She was, in fact, Bast. And Bast, of late, has been giving me tiny reminders: Take time for yourself. Be more secret. Out of the hidden, out of the inward, out of the mysterious unseen, the soul is restored to life and creativity arises, like the Bennu bird, singing.

Blue sky now, faint sunlight, and the wind a crazed tea-kettle shrieking past my window. There’s a place I want to go to at lunchtime — the top of the wooded slope looking out over the lake, a place of water and trees and stone and wind and sky, as close as I can get to hilltop or mountaintop on a half-hour walk. The path there has been closed for some kind of construction for months; I’ll have to see if it’s open today, or at least accessible. And then — who knows?